It’s troubling how many of our beliefs are convenient— entirely independent of their truth (or falsity).

If we are honest with ourselves, this should be a tremendous concern.
I believe I am good at fantasy football.

Whether this is true or not, this is an awfully useful belief for me personally, given that I earn my income giving fantasy advice and must continually convince others of its value.
Being convenient doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I don’t think it is! (If I did, of course, I wouldn’t believe it.)

But when almost everything we believe is personally convenient, this should raise serious red flags. For many things, truth is orthogonal to our reasons for believing.
As an exercise, try listing things you believe that are genuinely inconvenient for you.

(Note: something like “I believe the country is run by madmen” is not inconvenient as such if it cements your good standing among your closest peer groups. In that case, it’s convenient!)
For instance: I find compelling the arguments that eating meat is morally fraught, which sucks given how much I enjoy eating meat and the fact that I still do so.
I believe that people are essentially the same everywhere and everywhen. If I came of age in the Weimar Republic, I’d have likely been an “ordinary German”. In the antebellum south I’d have been a defender of slavery. No atrocity is beyond me but for fortunate circumstance.
As someone who (immodestly) has been the smartest person in the room in most rooms I’ve ever been in, I think our collective obsession with intelligence is bad.

At best, it is a weak proxy for the things we care about. (Accuracy, insight, rigor, honesty, consistency.)
At worst, it is orthogonal to or even negatively correlated with things we should care about— conscientiousness, empathy, decency, humility, graciousness— & focusing on intelligence is a distraction.

(I’m as guilty of anyone as saying “(s)he’s smart” when I mean “(s)he’s good”.)
Again, something being convenient doesn’t mean it’s false. And something being inconvenient doesn’t mean it’s true.

But we’re much less likely to correctly identify our convenient-but-false beliefs as such, absent Herculean effort.
You can follow @AdamHarstad.
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